I love Paris. And I would happily spend a weekend or two there at short notice (although unfortunately Mr T doesn’t quite share my love for Paris). However, most of my more recent visits were work related. Which obviously meant a lot less time for sightseeing. But you know what? That doesn’t mean you can’t see something of Paris before or after work. For those of you in a similar position and with limited time, I’ve put together a little walking tour through Paris. To show you the best of Paris in two hours. Intrigued?
Whenever I visit a place for work, I try my best to see something. But with work taking precedence it isn’t always easy. I had loads of trips where I spent a night in a town and still didn’t see a thing (me getting stranded in Paris for an extra night was a perfect example). But sometimes all goes well and I can make the most of the little time I have. Would you believe you could tick off quite a few of Rome’s major sights in just two hours? Been there, done that.
And Paris is no different. If you find yourself with a little spare time between meetings, whilst waiting for your Eurostar to London or during a layover, let me take you on a quick walking tour through Paris. Obviously, we won’t be able to see all of Paris in two hours. Even a full weekend in Paris doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be able to see it all. But Paris in two hours is enough to give you a glimpse of what the City of Love has to offer (and probably make you want to come back for more).
Paris in two hours starting point: Eiffel Tower
I mean, there is no way you could visit Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower (ok, there is but why would you?). So, what better place to start our walking tour through Paris than at this world-famous icon.
Built for the World’s Fair in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was at its time the highest man-made structure in the world. Standing proud over Paris at 324m. To this day, it is the most visited paid monument in the world. But since we aim to see the best of Paris in just two hours, we won’t go up this time. Obviously, do feel free to come back later if you have some time spare. Or do your walking tour through Paris the other way round and finish at the Eiffel Tower, then go up.
For the best view of the Eiffel Tower, you could cross the Seine and go towards the Trocadero or head through the Champs de Mars gardens. The view across the gardens is my favourite. It is even better if you go really early in the morning and have the gardens almost to yourself.
Once you’ve taken enough photos of the Eiffel Tower, it is time to start our walking tour through Paris.
Let’s head down to the Seine. Walking along, we will pass a couple of bridges. Take a look at the beautiful details of some. The Pont Alexandre III (Alexander 3rd Bridge) is one of the most decorated bridges in Paris. With beautiful Art Nouveau lamps, various statues and lots of gilding, it stands out from your standard road bridges.
We won’t cross the bridge just yet; we will keep going a little further. But look across the water and you will see the Grand Palais (the Great Palace) to the left and the Petit Palais (Small Palace) to the right of the bridge.
Although the names might suggest otherwise, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais were never actual palaces. They were both built as exhibition halls for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. Today, both are museums and if you have a little time, maybe go and check them out.
Once we get to the Pont de la Concorde, we will cross the Seine.
Paris in two hours: Place de la Concorde and Jardin Tuileries
As you cross the river you will see the Place de la Concorde right in front of you. Originally named Place Louis XV in honour of the king, it was renamed Place de la Concorde after the French Revolution.
In its centre you will see the large Luxor Obelisk. Over 3000 years old, it is one half of a pair of obelisks, originally guarding the entrance of the Luxor Temple in Egypt (the other one remained in its original position, as it was too large to transport to France at the time).
From the Place de la Concorde, we will turn right and head into the Jardin Tuileries (the Tuileries Gardens). The gardens have been around since the 16th Century and are a popular place to meet, stroll and sunbath. Depending on the time of year you visit Paris, you can either enjoy the sunshine or the Christmas market.
You could walk the whole length of the gardens and get straight to the Louvre. But as we are trying to see as much as possible of Paris in just two hours, we will do a little detour and include another sight. Therefore, we will walk roughly until the middle, then turn left and head out of the Tuileries Gardens and towards the Place Vendôme.
A quick walking tour through Paris: Opera Garnier and the Louvre
If you fancy some serious retail therapy (and aren’t afraid to max your credit card), you’ll find plenty of options around Place Vendôme. With the likes of Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Rolex all next to each other, you could certainly spend some time (and money) here. But since the clock is ticking and we are trying to see Paris in two hours, a glance at the shop windows will have to do for now.
Across the Place Vendôme, we will head along the Rue de la Paix, until we get to the Palais Garnier. Setting of the famous ‘Phantom of the Opera’, the Opera House is impressive to look at. Visiting the Opera House for a performance (or even just for a tour of the interior) is still on my Paris bucket list. During my work trips to Paris, I came across the Opera Garnier regularly, as the office was more or less opposite. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to actually join a tour of the Opera House after work.
If you spend more time in Paris, it might be worth checking what performances are on.
Once you’ve had enough of the Opera House, head down the Avenue de l’Opéra to get back towards the Louvre. Go through the arches to the Place du Carrousel and the Pyramide du Louvre. Paris in two hours doesn’t allow us to include the artwork inside the Louvre to our walking tour through Paris. Another thing you might want to add to your Paris bucket list for when you have a little more time.
Walk past the pyramid and through the archway. Once we get to the central square, we will turn right and head back towards the Seine.
Paris in two hours: The Pont des Arts and the Île de la Cité
As we get to the Seine, you will see the Pont des Arts ahead of you. The pedestrian bridge became famous for its love locks. But after the bridge partly collapsed, love locks can no longer be attached. As the weight became too much for the bridge to bear. But even without the love locks, the bridge still offers some pretty views up and down the Seine.
For all you fellow ‘Sex and the City’ fans out there the Pont des Arts was also one of the SATC Paris filming locations.
We won’t cross the Seine just yet. Instead, we continue a little further and cross at the next bridge, the Pont Neuf (meaning New Bridge).
Despite the name, the Pont Neuf is actually the oldest remaining bridge in Paris, being built back at the start of the 17th century.
Crossing it, we will get to the Île de la Cité (the City Island). This natural island is the heart of Paris and the place where it originated. Nowadays Paris stretches a lot further than just this little island in the Seine, but it still remains a vital part of it.
As we walk across the island, we will come past some of Paris’s medieval buildings.
First up is Sainte-Chapelle, a beautiful Gothic building, that was the residence of the King of France up until the 14th century.
Then Notre-Dame de Paris. That symbol of Paris, that so sadly was destroyed by a fire back in 2019.
The fire destroyed most of the interior, the spire and the roof. But the impressive front with its two towers and the three rosette windows remained intact. Restoration work is due to start this year and will hopefully be completed by 2024 (fingers crossed). So, heading inside isn’t an option. But Notre-Dame is still worth a look (from afar) and we won’t leave it out of our Paris in two hours walking tour.
Walking tour through Paris: Quartier Latin and Panthéon
Our Paris in two hours tour is gradually coming to an end. Well, depending how long you’ve lingered at some of the points, the time might actually already be up. But let’s not be too pedantic about it.
As we get past Notre-Dame and towards the end of the Île de la Cité, we will take the Pont de l’Archevêché (Bridge of the Archbishopric) on the right to get to the 5th Arrondissement. We are heading to our last stop on our walking tour through Paris, the Panthéon. To get there, we will head through the Quartier Latin (the Latin Quarter), a beautiful area with loads of restaurants and cafés. Perfect, if the tour leaves you longing for a rest. I love walking the little roads in this area. Enjoy it, whilst we head down past Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and on towards the Panthéon.
The Panthéon, as it stands today, was built in the 18th century. Think the dome looks familiar? Not surprised. It is built in the same style as the one of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Congratulations, you made it to the end of our little ‘Paris in two hours’ tour. I hope you enjoyed it. I know, we haven’t seen all of Paris, we have barely scratched the surface. If you have a little more time, maybe you’d also like to go and explore Montparnasse. Or head to the Grand Magasins for some shopping.
In total our little Paris in two hours tour has covered around 8.5km (just over 5 miles).
Tell me, what is your favourite part of Paris?